On April 11, 2018, students at Chulalongkorn University (CU) reported that they were followed, and surveilled and intimidated by undercover police officers in response to their peaceful protest activities.
On April 9, a group of CU students protested an appearance by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of Thailand’s National Council on Peace and Order. According to media, as General Chan-ocha was speaking to reporters near Siam Square, students Wasinee Pabupraprap, Nattanoun Thangeuasakal, and Wiranpat Rodkaew held signs that read “Chula people love Prayuth Dictator.” The general’s security guards reportedly prevented one student from joining the protesters and tore up the signs. During the protest, General Prayuth publicly told his guards not to hurt the students.
In the two days following the peaceful protest, however, undercover police officers reportedly visited the students. According to Ms. Rodkaew, two officers visited her home, where they asked her mother whether she had any links to political parties, and warned her not to allow Ms. Rodkaew to protest again. Ms. Pabupraprap’s also reported home surveillance by police that day.
According to Mr. Wangchai, undercover officers visited and questioned CU staff members about him, including aski1ng for his address, contact information, and his behavior as a student. The same day, officers reportedly followed him, took pictures, and listened in while he was having a meal with another activist student, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak. Mr. Wangchai also claimed that police followed him to the UN on April 11, while he was on his way to submit a letter regarding the police surveillance and intimidation he and his classmates faced.
Asked about the police activities, National Council of Peace and Order spokesman Winthai Suwaree reportedly stated “I don’t have any information about sending people to monitor them especially.”
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of surveillance and intimidation against students in order to retaliate against or prevent the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from actions that seek to restrict or retaliate against the peaceful exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such acts have a chilling effect on academic freedom and democratic society generally.